Published: Thu, December 06, 2018
Global News | By Blake Casey

Mafia raids across Europe target 'Ndrangheta group

Mafia raids across Europe target 'Ndrangheta group

"Today, supported by a coordination center at Eurojust, judicial and law enforcement authorities from the Netherlands, Italy, Germany and Belgium are now executing arrests and seizures against a 'Ndrangheta criminal group involved in cocaine trafficking, money laundering, bribery and violence", Wednesday's statement read.

European officials announced the arrests at the Hague headquarters of Eurojust, the European Union prosecutors agency set up to bolster the fight against cross-border crime in the 28-nation bloc.

The homes of high-ranking mobsters were also targeted, with police successfully recovering millions of euros in laundered money.

The group was involved in "cocaine trafficking, money laundering, bribery and violence", the European judicial agency Eurojust said in a statement.

'Ndrangheta is one of five major world crime organizations operating out of Italy.

Eurojust said the massive probe was the biggest of its kind in Europe.

Police seized four tonnes of cocaine, 120 kilos of ecstasy and around 2 million euros ($2.3 million) in cash from locations including Italian restaurants and ice cream parlours.

But Italy's top Mafia prosecutor, Federico Cafiero De Raho, also sounded a note of caution, saying the raids only scratched the surface of the powerful 'ndrangheta, whose tentacles and illicit activities, including huge cocaine trafficking operations, were spread all over the world.

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But he warned that it was "just a first step", saying the arrests were "nothing for the 'Ndrangheta, there are thousands of people who should be arrested and billions that should be seized".

The 'Ndrangheta group comes from Calabria in the south of Italy, it is one of three mafia crime groups, which includes the Camorra, and the Cosa Nostra, commonly known as the Mafia.

Mr De Raho said the arrests "are nothing for 'Ndrangheta".

He added, groups of the 'Ndrangheta and its allies, have infiltrated the ports around Europe and "polluted" lawyers and accountants in many countries on their payrolls.

The "unprecedented" crackdown on the group based in Calabria, southern Italy, came just a day after Italian police arrested the new boss of the separate Sicilian mafia.

In Germany, Wednesday's operation focused on restaurants, offices and apartments linked to the mafia group, focused on the North Rhine-Westphalia region, Der Spiegel reported.

Italian media said key organised crime family members were targeted.

It has approximately 6,000 members, and is believed to control 80-percent of Europe's cocaine trade.

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